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PhD Proposal Defense - Li Zhu

You are all invited to attend Li's PhD Proposal defense.

Date: Friday, March 15, 2013
Time: 9:30 am
Location: PHYS 401

Determination of the single scattering albedo and direct radiative forcing of biomass burning aerosol with data from the MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) satellite instrument

Biomass burning aerosols absorb and scatter solar radiation and therefore affect the energy balance of the Earth-atmosphere system. The single scattering albedo (SSA), the ratio of the scattering coefficient to the extinction coefficient, is an important parameter to describe the optical properties of aerosols and to determine the effect of aerosols on the energy balance of the planet and climate. Aerosol effects on radiation also depend strongly on surface albedo. Large uncertainties remain in current estimates of radiative impacts of biomass burning aerosols, due largely to the lack of reliable measurements of aerosol and surface properties. In this work we investigate how satellite measurements can be used to estimate the direct radiative forcing of biomass burning aerosols. We developed a method using the critical reflectance technique to retrieve SSA from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) observed reflectance at the top of the atmosphere (TOA). We evaluated MODIS retrieved SSAs with AErosol RObotic NETwork (AERONET) retrievals and found good agreements within the published uncertainty of the AERONET retrievals. We then developed an algorithm, the MODIS Enhanced Vegetation Albedo (MEVA), to improve the representations of spectral variations of vegetation surface albedo based on MODIS observations at the discrete 0.67, 0.86, 0.47, 0.55, 1.24, 1.64, and 2.12 ┬Ám channels. This algorithm is validated using laboratory measurements of the different vegetation types from the Amazon region, data from the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) spectral library, and data from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) digital spectral library. We show that the MEVA method can improve the accuracy of flux and aerosol forcing calculations at the TOA compared to more traditional interpolated approaches. Lastly, we combine the MODIS retrieved biomass burning aerosol SSA and the surface albedo spectrum determined from the MEVA technique to calculate TOA flux and aerosol direct radiative forcing over the Amazon region and compare it with Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) satellite results. The results show that MODIS based forcing calculations present similar averaged results compared to CERES, but MODIS shows greater spatial variation of aerosol forcing than CERES. Possible reasons for these differences are explored and discussed in this work. Potential future research based on these results is discussed as well.